In the darkness of deep night, the man guards his exhausted wife and the baby she has just delivered.
His hands are calloused and thick, palms hard like wooden paddles. His fingers are metal wires, the tips devoid of feeling from long years of sanding and handling rough, splintered wood as he crafts raw materials into items useful and appealing. His forearms ripple and twist with brutal strength, knotted with muscle and sinews stretched by years of diligent exertion.
He is a silent tower, stern and unmoving; yet in his powerful, rugged hands he gently cradles a tiny sleeping infant. He gazes with amazed tenderness at his baby boy; he examines the newborn face still crimson from the pressure and blood of birth, and flushed from his first wails as breath begins in the pungent air of a Bethlehem manger.
Jesus was born into the household of Joseph.
As Joseph, the carpenter from Nazareth, looked at the King of heaven folded into human form, did he tremble with mingled love and fear? He was to be the example of earthly fatherhood to the Child who had been face-to-face with the Father of Lights. In his arms he held a son who was the Son of Man, the one Daniel saw coming in the clouds as He approached the Ancient of Days. Joseph would raise this son in his home, a Son greater than any earthly father. This Son belonged not to one family, but to all mankind.
How could any mortal fulfill such overwhelming responsibility?
Father, show me where I fit into this plan of yours;
how can a man be father to the Son of God?
Lord, for all my life I’ve been a simple carpenter;
how can I raise a king?
How can I raise a king?
(“Joseph’s Song” by Michael Card)
Our Father has a way of charging us with more responsibility than we would ever imagine we could fulfill. His plans are so much greater than ours for our lives. His dreams for us are wild and wonderful adventures that would seem to us to enter the boundaries of fantasy. We sense instinctively that His trust in us is misplaced; but He who is Wisdom itself knows the end from the beginning and He is infinitely acquainted with the gifts and callings He has placed within us. He has all power and understanding of how He intends to bring His purposes into stunning fruition.
The God who upholds creation in His mighty palm is fully capable of completing all that He intends to do in us.
We know very little about Joseph, but we know that he must have been a godly example for God in the flesh. Jesus grew strong and pure. He learned his father’s trade, and He learned to fully accomplish His Father’s will.
Joseph humbled himself before God and did not shrink back from the most awesome parenting responsibility in history. His obedience is an example for us to trust the will and purposes of our good Father for our lives. Our prayer can echo his:
“Lord, show me where I fit into Your plan. Show me how to live what You have given me.”
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